Businesses in New Hampshire may soon be able to work their teenage employees harder.
A bill passed last week by the New Hampshire Senate would increase how many hours teenagers can work in the state. Currently, anyone under age 17 is not allowed to work more than 30 hours during a school week and up to 48 hours during vacations and summer break.
The new bill would allow teenagers (who get permission from their parents) to work up to 48 hours a week during the school year and up to 40.25 hours a week when there’s a four-day week of school (for example, after a holiday weekend). The workweek during the summer would also be increased to 56 hours. In addition, the state’s Department of Labor would receive less leeway to investigate businesses, enforcement measures would be reduced and evidence standards would be increased.
“The bill provides much better clarity and understanding of the responsibilities of businesses and how they need to report, monitor and manage people they’re hiring,” Sen. Andy Sanborn (R), one of the bill’s co-sponsors, told the Concord Monitor. Supporters also feel that it would also provide more opportunities for young workers.
Mike Somers, who is president of the New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association, agrees. He thinks the bill would help give more breathing room to businesses and allow teenagers greater choice. “We’re trying to save our business owners, the ones being penalized in fines for miscellaneous offenses,” he said.
The bill passed the Senate on a close 11-10 vote with some opponents declaring that the state should be doing more to encourage students to increase their studying and education so that they can earn higher wages in the future, rather than spending the time working for lower wages now. “I’d rather they be a trained, higher, more-educated workforce,” said Democratic Senator Bill Gannon, who opposed the bill. “Because that’ll be better for New Hampshire in the long term.”
New Hampshire’s House of Representatives has yet to vote on the proposed legislation.